Hidden Houston

Hidden Houston: Bellaire Bead Shop

In our occasional series Hidden Houston, Houston Public Radio’s Rod Rice reports on people, places and things that help form the fabric of the area. This morning it’s a visit to a business in Bellaire that, as part of its unique business plan, doesn’t advertise.


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“We depend solely on word of mouth for our advertising although I don’t know if I would recommend it another entrepreneur just starting out. It’s not the easiest way in the world to do business.”

That’s Katie Koenig, a petite blond with a quick smile and the owner of The Bellaire Bead Shop. The store has been open everyday, seven days a week, for almost ten years.

“We have a large base of customers right now that are actually all over the United States and they come to us on holidays. That’s one reason we’re open on holidays because people who come to Houston to visit their families on holidays have no where to go because most store close down.”

It’s a small location with just a few rooms with tight aisles and it’s a real experience.

“Beads are a unique item to sell.  Beads are found all over the world. People of all ages find them interesting, from small people to elderly people enjoy beads and they enjoy coming to the store and looking at the different colors, the different textures. We have floor to ceiling beads in three rooms so it’s interesting for everyone.”

The key word there is “enjoy:” The Bellaire Bead Shop is enjoyable, so much so that a number of the people who work there are volunteers…because it’s enjoyable. From the moment you walk through the door you are greeted by the staff and by a delightful secret scent.

“It’s a mix of cinnamon and orange and different things we mix up our self that when people walk into the store we want them to the sights and the sound of our music, but we want them to remember the smell and the whole environment.”  Rod…’And it’s a secret, the one thing people can’t buy.’   “It’s top secret.”

While The Bellaire Bead Shop has a website, it does not have a telephone. At first it was because of a tragic period in Koenig’s life. She got a call that her brother was gravely injured in a traffic accident, then after leaving the scene of that accident she too was critically injured in a car accident. For a long time the sound of a phone triggered bad memories.

“So it started out that way but it worked out good because the phone was just an interruption in our doing business, we wanted people to be here one on one, we wanted people to see what we have instead of describing it on the telephone.”

Her brother made a full recovery from his injuries. During her year long recuperation, Koenig found that beading was therapeutic and so she began offering her time and materials to teach children recovering from accidents how to bead as a way of aiding their recovery. That has evolved over the years to including a full range of people in a variety of institutions whose recoveries have been augmented by making jewelry. There are also classes for anyone over the age of eleven.

“We give one on one classes. People will pay for their class and that will reserve a private teacher. We’ll sit down with the person and pretty much guarantee that they’ll be an expert in an hour and a half when we get finished with them.”

And this Hidden Houston gem is multi-cultural too, Katie Koenig says at any given time there are usually at least three languages spoken at the Bellaire Bead Shop.  If you have an idea for a Hidden Houston segment e-mail me…rrice@kuhf.org.

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